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The Restaurateur

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

{WINNER! Best Food Documentary, Sonoma Int'l Film Festival}
{WINNER! Best Documentary, Big Apple Film Festival}

This intimate film about Danny Meyer, one of America's preeminent restaurant owners, opens in the dining room of Eleven Madison Park in December, 2009. Meyer confides to the camera: "After Tabla and Eleven Madison Park opened, I was convinced I'd made one of the worst professional mistakes of my life." Fade to a vast, concrete space, January, 1998. A much younger-looking Meyer, with Tom Colicchio (chef of Gramercy Tavern), enters the site; Meyer gives him a tour of his hopes and dreams.

We follow the restaurateur and his team for a year as they experience gut-wrenching construction delays, miss deadlines, and fire a chef. We visit Tabla's chef Floyd Cardoz in his tiny home kitchen where he creates his now classic watermelon curry. We're there as chef Kerry Heffernan takes over EMP just weeks before opening. Back in the present, Tabla receives a 3 star review in The New York Times, but EMP gets two middling reviews, first from Ruth Reichl and later from Frank Bruni. Danny tells us, "I arrived at the restaurant to find the chef and GM literally crying. I realized it was time for a change." A countrywide search brings in Daniel Humm from San Francisco; the restaurant is transformed. They received first three, then four stars from The Times, one of only six restaurants to be so honored.

Danny Meyer bares all in this portrait. Watching him and his inner circle, we witness first-hand how difficult it is to create a world-class restaurant. THE RESTAURATEUR is nothing like those reality shows. This is real.


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Danny Meyer
  • Directors: Roger Sherman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: First Run Features
  • DVD Release Date: March 29, 2011
  • Run Time: 57 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004GFELAA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,298 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steve Ramm TOP 100 REVIEWER on March 30, 2011
Format: DVD
First Run Features is becoming known now for all the great "food related" documentaries they have been releasing. First came Pressure Cooker and then Kings of Pastry (see both of my reviews on Amazon), and now The Restaurateur. All are great!

In the 1990s a friend invited me to dinner at the Union Square Café in New York - the first restaurant opened by Danny Meyer. Though it was a prestigious restaurant - with rankings by Zagats in the Top 5 - I never felt it was pretentious and Meyer himself roamed the tables and made me feel like a king! After watching this 57-minute documentary about Meyer's attempt to open TWO different restaurants, each a week apart, I still feel the same way about this guy. He is a people person and sure can cope with pressure.

Filmmaker Roger Sherman followed Meyer and his staff continuously as the restaurants were built, staff hired and finally "opening night". Then he went back 11 years later (in 2010) to see how the restaurants were doing. Though all this is covered in under an hour, the film itself does not feel rushed. And Meyer is cool as a cucumber (food reference not intentional). A "restaurateur" is not a chef, nor a general manager, nor an architect. He (or she) has a vision for a restaurant and then finds those three people to help fill the vision.

This is not a film about cooking, but it is tangentially about food. It's not until about two-thirds of the way into the film that you actually see food (but when you do make sure you are not hungry). But if you like fine dining, or want tips on how to develop a business - and a loyal customer bases, this is a fascinating film to watch.

The bonus features include a 27-minute "Epilogue" bringing the restaurants up to January 2011.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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Eventually got a working DVD... this is an excellent documentary about Danny Meyer and how he progresses through the planning, opening and later re-opening of a restaurant.

excellent view into what can go wrong, even with the best made plans, and how people think on their feet to get around them

I would also say read his book setting the table before watching the video to get the most out of it - gives you an idea for what drives Mr Meyer
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Danny Meyer is great and you can see that his knack for building great restaurants starts with every detail covered impeccably. Certainly worth watching if you are half what intrigued about what it takes to start a great restaurant or a must watch if you have never opened a restaurant from scratch and you need a little time cut off the learning curve.
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Format: DVD
There seems to be an entirely new sub-category in the documentary film world--the foodie movie. Tales of chefs, cooking, and competitions have been proliferating in recent years--so if you have culinary interests, they are easy to satisfy with numerous non-fiction endeavors. Roger Sherman's brief film "The Restaurateur" tackles a largely ignored, but vital, component of the industry. Showcasing the business aspects of opening and running successful eateries, the film stars Danny Meyer who is a bigwig in the upscale New York restaurant world. In 1998, Meyer and his financial group attempted to open two high profile restaurants at adjacent locations in a fashionable area of New York City, and this film chronicles the successes and tribulations inherent in this process.

In truth, the focus of the movie is somewhat limited and it may not appeal to everyone. Having been involved in several business openings myself, seeing an empty space transform into a viable and thriving restaurant is inherently interesting. If, however, the idea of the movie does not grab your attention--then, honestly, nothing presented in this straightforward documentary is likely to change your mind. There isn't gobs of drama and/or human interest--this is a film of process. We meet the chefs, Meyer's partners, and other key members of the teams but, aside from Meyer, the chefs are the only people we get to know in the slightest. And they're probably the film's most intriguing aspect. Interesting side note, you see Top Chef's Tom Colicchio circa 1998 (he was the chef at one of Meyer's other eateries)--so if you want to check out the big guy while he had some hair, pick this up (although he plays a very minor role in the film).
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I'm currently opening up my own restaurant and this was recommended by Amazon with a different purchase. I bought it and watched it last night. If you are in the food business industry this is a great video. Lots of information and a look at what it takes to open a restaurant in NYC. I found it very interesting and enjoyed it a lot. However the rest of my family was a little bored by some of the film. This is NOT a reality tv show but real life. Yes there are delays in opening a restaurant which many times are out of the owner's hands. Budgets go over. Cooks quit. Tempers explode. I was able to relate to many of the problems as I'm going through them right now, although on a much smaller scale (budget).

Just so everyone knows this is NOT a film to show you how to cook although they do talk about food and different menu items. I really liked the fact that they started out in 1998 showing the very beginning in an open space then show it a decade later and explain all the little changes they made along the way. The also who the work it took every few weeks to a month along the way from leasing the proprty to transforming it into a restaurant. And they open 2 restaurants at once. If you have ever toyed with the idea of opening up your own restaurant get this video. If you want a happy go lucky food tv show this may not be for you. For the limited audience of the food service people I give it 5 stars but in general for everyone else I drop it down to 4 stars.

Bill
Co-owner: Lammon's Family Restaurant
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